the moving spectacle staged by Sandra Orfei and Claudio Vassallo

photographs and text by Arianna Di Romano

You have no idea how happy I am to have photographed these talented artists, who, without filters or reserves, have given themselves to my gaze and my heart. There is always a part of me attracted by that combination of environments, of peculiar stories and of that humanity which moves for its fragility.

I’ll start by telling you that the circus portrayed in these images is that of Sandra Orfei and Claudio Vassallo. The artistic directors are Claudio Vassallo himself and Sara Mateva, he comes from the high riding school, has magnificent horses and is a tamer of tigers and lions. She, Sara, is a splendid and highly skilled acrobat on the rigid line. Her smile is disarming! Behind the scenes, wrapped in a purple velvet curtain, which is well suited to his royal dress, there is Marcello, the last “white face” clown in business. His gaze is sad, but as soon as he starts working, even before meeting his audience, all his passion and his “great great” professionalism are revealed. Another interesting and bizarre figure is that of Angelo, from Turin, who came to the circus world just to experience it: in reality he is a consummate theater actor! Federica instead is a wonderful catanese dancer who left everything to follow love, and married Nicholas, trapeze artist, becoming an acrobat herself. They are said to be capable of exchanging their hearts in the air … Suddenly, from behind the scenes where I was kindly admitted, I am attracted by a melody and, almost under hypnosis, I look for the author. I discover Ilaria, a musician who appears wrapped in a cloud of white smoke. Introduced by Kevin, her companion, who juggles with the number of the acrobatic aerial circle. My eyes fill with tears of emotion. I have to stop work for a while … But all of a sudden, almost to wake up from this forced pause, my attention is caught by Giampaolo, the ventriloquist, who is married to a dancer: what a great family I have come across! Finally I meet Massimo expert trainer of exotic animals. He keeps a hippopotamus and four dromedaries at bay! The girls are ready to get on the track in their glittering clothes. The show is about to begin. Music overwhelms our voices and makes everything vibrate. A blanket of smoke assails us while the smell of candy floss becomes a caress for the senses, for those olfactory memories able to catapult us into an indefinite and indefinable moment. Now, the heartbeat of the artists is only one, so intense that it can easily blend with mine, as well as the sweat, the feeling of fatigue, waiting, fear and everything you breathe behind the curtain.


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